Kelowna Rockets

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Kelowna Rockets
Kelowna Rockets logo.svg
City Kelowna, British Columbia
League Western Hockey League
Conference Western
Division B.C.
Founded 1991 (1991)
Home arena Prospera Place
Colours Teal, Red, Copper, Black, White
                        
Owner(s) Bruce Hamilton
General manager Bruce Hamilton
Head coach Brad Ralph[1]
Championships WHL Champions
2003, 2005, 2009, 2015
Memorial Cup Champions
2004

Website
KelownaRockets.com
Franchise history
1991–95 Tacoma Rockets
1995–present Kelowna Rockets

The Kelowna Rockets are a major junior ice hockey team based in Kelowna, British Columbia. The Rockets play in the Western Hockey League (WHL), out of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). They play their home games at Prospera Place.[2]

From 2002 to 2009, Kelowna competed in the Memorial Cup tournament a record four times,[3] the most of any other CHL team in a seven-year span. The Rockets captured the Memorial Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2004, the same year they were selected to host the event. In 2015, the Rockets returned to the Memorial Cup a fifth time, losing to the Oshawa Generals in the championship final.

Franchise history[edit]

Established in 1991, the team began as the Tacoma Rockets, previously playing in Tacoma, Washington, and playing their home games at the Tacoma Dome. Prior to the 1995–96 season, the team relocated to Kelowna, playing their home games at the city's Memorial Arena. Following the 1998–99 season, they moved into their then-new home arena, Prospera Place. The team's logo pays tribute to the famed Ogopogo monster, of the Okanagan Lake.

1991–94: Early years[edit]

See also: Tacoma Rockets
Former Tacoma Rockets logo. Used 1991–94.

The 1991–92 season marks the first season of the Rockets in Tacoma, Washington. Playing in one of North America's largest hockey arenas, the Tacoma Dome, the expansion Rockets blasted their way to one of the most memorable inaugural seasons in the 25-year history of the WHL. Attendance of 14,975 and 15,240 at two heated contests against their then arch rival, the Seattle Thunderbirds, assisted the Rockets in chalking up the highest per game average for a first year expansion team under CHL oversight.

In 1992–93, the Rockets startled everyone in the League by winning 24-straight home games for an all-time WHL record. Tacoma held first place in the West Division for three months and finished with a promising 45–27–0 record. In addition to the winning streak, the Rockets' home record of 30–6–0 and collecting 37 more points than the previous year, proved them serious contenders in the WHL. Once again the Rockets' attendance of 13,769 saw them defeat the Seattle Thunderbirds 4–2 in win number 24 and marked the third-largest crowd in the history of the WHL. Three Rockets ultimately won honours as best in the WHL West — goaltender Jeff Calvert as Most Valuable Player, Michal Sykora as Most Valuable Player and Jamie Black as Most Sportsmanlike Player.

The 1993–94 season marked a year of transition for the Rockets, with the graduation of high-scoring veteran Allan Egeland, solid forward Trever Fraser and goaltender Jeff Calvert. The Rockets' third season also boasted the presence of some of the League's top rookies and a solid base of nine National Hockey League (NHL)-drafted players; six alone were selected in 1994, bringing the total to 13 Rockets drafted in the short span of three seasons. Rockets eventually finished third in the West with a 33–34–5 record.

With a strong finish in the 1993–94 season, the Rockets strove to compete at a higher level of excellence. They began their third season boasting impressive size in defence and the strength of nine NHL prospects. The team also added the skill and talent of one of Europe's top young forwards, Vaclav Varada, who scored 50 points and tied the team's rookie scoring record. Todd MacDonald, a 1993 Florida Panthers draft choice, became the team's top goaltender and was nominated for the position's best in the West award. Veteran Dallas Thompson was named team captain, and the total make-up of the team's roster ultimately propelled the Rockets to a second-place finish in the West.

1995–2004: New ownership[edit]

The 1995–96 season saw significant change to the entire Rockets organization: not only the loss of defenceman Alexander Alexeev and captain Dallas Thompson due to age, but the decision to relocate the Rockets to Kelowna, British Columbia. After long deliberation and consideration for the City of Tacoma and the many dedicated fans who supported the Rockets, the 22,000-seat Tacoma Dome was no longer a long-term viable home for the Rockets. Key dates became more difficult to secure, leaving the Rockets in search of home ice for playoffs at the end of each regular season. No future of change for the poor sightlines in the arena brought the Rockets organization to the conclusion the team needed to be moved. There were several viable choices prospected; however, Kelowna's rich history in hockey and the prospect of a new arena made Kelowna the natural choice.[citation needed] With the Rockets' relocation came the acquisition of talent in the form of future first-round NHL draft pick Kyle McLaren and fifth-round pick Dale Purinton, as well as the hometown players Jason Deleurme, Ronny Grimmard and Trevor Lornson.

2004: Memorial Cup Champions[edit]

Further information: 2004 Memorial Cup

Kelowna qualified for three-straight Memorial Cup tournaments in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005. They won the Memorial Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2004, coincidentally the same year they were selected to host the event.

Fans lined up outside Prospera Place for hours to witness the 2–1 victory for Kelowna in the Memorial Cup's championship game. Every game of the tournament was a sell-out, and an enthusiastic host city cheered wildly as their home team claimed their first Memorial Cup victory in franchise history. The Rockets are the first team since the Ottawa 67's in 1999 to win the Cup on home ice, and the victory marked the second time the Cup's host team has gone undefeated in the tournament, the first being when the Kamloops Blazers hosted and went undefeated in 1995.

Justin Keller scored the game-winning goal late in the third period to defeat Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) champion Gatineau Olympiques. Despite numerous chances on both ends of the ice through the first two periods of play, neither team could find the back of the net until the third. With six-and-a-half minutes gone in the third and Gatineau on the power-play, Jean-Michel Daoust slapped a pass to Guillaume Fournier, who tipped the puck past Rocketes goaltender Kelly Guard for his first of the tournament. Less than four minutes later, however, Kelowna tied the game after a rebound from a Brett Palin slap shot went straight to Randall Gelech, who chipped it in past Gatineau goaltender David Tremblay for his third of the tournament. Kelowna had a chance to take the lead just seconds later, but the shot hit the post.

With 13:38 left to play in the period, Justin Keller streaked in from the right side and tucked the puck between the pads of Tremblay, bringing the largest-ever crowd to attend Kelowna's Prospera Place to their feet. After the game, the CHL announced that more than 1.2 million viewers tuned into Rogers Sportsnet and RDS coverage of the championship tournament, including 410,000 for the final game.

Coincidentally, the Rockets also set the WHL record for fewest goals allowed in a season in 2003–04.

2009: Return to the Cup[edit]

Further information: 2009 Memorial Cup

For the fourth time in seven years,[3] the Rockets would play in a Memorial Cup tournament, an appearance record only bettered by the New Westminster Bruins' four appearances in four seasons. Prior to the tournament, during the 2009 WHL playoffs, Kelowna captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup with a 4–2 WHL championship series win over the Calgary Hitmen.

With this series win, the Rockets claimed a spot in the 2009 Memorial Cup tournament, which was hosted in Rimouski, Quebec. In the early stages of the tournament, Kelowna had great success, clinching a spot in the Final. Seeking to find their franchise's second cup title in five years, the Rockets, however, could not convert a win, and as a result, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)'s Windsor Spitfires went on as 2009 Memorial Cup champions.

2015: Return to the Cup 2[edit]

Further information: 2015 Memorial Cup

After five years of failing to qualify for the Memorial Cup, the Rockets broke the slump in 2015 after defeating the Brandon Wheat Kings 4–0 in the WHL finals. They went on to record one win and two losses in the tournament, clinching a spot in the tournament semi-finals. The Rockets then routed the Quebec Remparts 9–3 in the semi-finals, setting-up a game against the Oshawa Generals in the final, which Kelowna lost 2–1.

Team uniforms[edit]

Current uniforms.
Logo used from 1995–96 to 2000–01

Since 2000, the Rockets' uniforms have featured a logo resembling the legendary Okanagan Lake monster, Ogopogo. Their current third jersey features the monster's head, taken from their shoulder patch design. The team's colours are jaguar teal, athletic red, copper gold, orange sun, black and white. In 1998, the team jerseys changed from their traditional "Rockets" logo to more localized jerseys.

Season-by-season record[edit]

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Season GP W L T OTL GF GA Points Finish Playoffs
1995–96 72 35 33 4 338 309 74 4th West Lost Western Conference quarter-final
1996–97 72 35 35 2 298 314 72 4th West Lost Western Conference quarter-final
1997–98 72 33 35 4 234 253 70 5th West Lost Western Conference quarter-final
1998–99 72 25 42 5 224 282 55 6th West Lost Western Conference quarter-final
1999–00 72 25 40 4 3 193 228 57 5th West Lost Western Conference quarter-final
2000–01 72 37 23 7 5 259 240 86 1st West Lost Western Conference quarter-final
2001–02 72 31 26 10 5 257 232 77 4th B.C. Lost Western Conference final
2002–03 72 51 14 6 1 311 164 109 1st B.C. Won Championship; Lost Memorial Cup semi-final
2003–04 72 47 21 4 0 185 125 98 1st B.C. Lost Western Conference final; Won Memorial Cup
2004–05 72 45 13 12 2 215 139 104 2nd B.C. Won Championship; Lost Memorial Cup round robin
Season GP W L OTL SOL GF GA Points Finish Playoffs
2005–06 72 46 22 1 3 243 188 96 2nd B.C. Lost Western Conference semi-final
2006–07 72 22 41 5 2 156 245 53 5th B.C. Out of playoffs
2007–08 72 38 26 2 6 248 215 84 2nd B.C. Lost Western Conference quarter-final
2008–09 72 47 21 1 3 267 178 98 2nd B.C. Won Championship; Lost Memorial Cup final
2009–10 72 35 31 2 4 224 225 76 2nd B.C. Lost Western Conference semi-final
2010–11 72 43 28 0 1 240 201 87 1st B.C. Lost Western Conference semi-final
2011–12 72 31 31 4 6 217 242 72 3rd B.C. Lost Western Conference quarter-final
2012–13 72 52 16 3 1 309 178 108 1st B.C. Lost Western Conference semi-final
2013–14 72 57 11 0 4 310 182 118 1st B.C. Lost Western Conference final
2014–15 72 53 13 5 1 305 183 112 1st B.C. Won Championship; Lost Memorial Cup final

WHL Championship history[edit]

Memorial Cup finals history[edit]

  • 2004: Win, 2–1 vs. Gatineau
  • 2009: Loss, 1–4 vs. Windsor
  • 2015: Loss, 1–2 vs. Oshawa

Current roster[edit]

Updated January 6, 2015.[4]

# Nat Player Pos S/G Age Acquired Birthplace Drafted
24 Canada Baillie, TysonTyson Baillie C R 19 2010 Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta Eligible 2014
17 United States Barnett, JTJT Barnett RW L 23 2012 Scottsdale, Arizona Undrafted
29 Canada Bell, MylesMyles Bell LW R 22 2011 Calgary, Alberta 2013, 160th Overall, NJD
4 Canada Bowey, MadisonMadison Bowey D R 20 2010 Winnipeg, Manitoba 2013, 53rd Overall, WSH
14 Canada Chartier, RourkeRourke Chartier C L 19 2011 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 2014, 149th Overall, SJS
30 Canada Cooke, JordonJordon Cooke G R 22 2010 Leduc, Alberta Undrafted
Germany Draisaitl, LeonLeon Draisaitl C L 19 2015 Cologne, Germany 2014, 3rd Overall, EDM
18 Canada Fowlie, CodyCody Fowlie RW R 22 2012 Airdrie, Alberta Undrafted
9 Canada Franko, ZachZach Franko LW L 22 2008 Winnipeg, Manitoba Undrafted
28 Canada Gatenby, JoeJoe Gatenby D R 18 2012 Kelowna, British Columbia Eligible 2015
20 Canada Glover, AustinAustin Glover RW R 19 2011 Clavet, Saskatchewan Eligible 2014
12 Canada Goulbourne, TyrellTyrell Goulbourne C L 21 2009 Edmonton, Alberta 2013, 71st Overall, PHI
25 Canada Heffley, ColtonColton Heffley C R 21 2009 Swift Current, Saskatchewan Undrafted
22 Canada Johnston, MacKenzieMacKenzie Johnston L 21 2009 Swift Current, Saskatchewan Undrafted
23 Canada Kirkland, JustinJustin Kirkland LW L 19 2011 Camrose, Alberta Eligible 2014
2 Canada Lees, JesseJesse Lees D R 19 2010 Calgary, Alberta Undrafted
26 Canada Linaker, ColeCole Linaker C R 20 2010 Edmonton, Alberta Undrafted
8 United States Martin, ColtenColten Martin D R 21 2009 Arlington, Texas Undrafted
19 Canada McKinlay, DylenDylen McKinlay RW R 23 2012 Langley, British Columbia 2010, 189th Overall, MIN
10 Canada Merkley, NickNick Merkley C R 18 2012 Calgary, Alberta Eligible 2015
21 Sweden Nyberg, HenrikHenrik Nyberg RW R 21 2012 Stockholm, Sweden Undrafted
27 Canada Olsen, RyanRyan Olsen C R 21 2012 Tsawwassen, British Columbia 2012, 160th Overall, WPG
11 Canada Rigby, CarterCarter Rigby LW L 21 2011 Penticton, British Columbia Undrafted
7 Canada Severson, DamonDamon Severson D R 21 2009 Melville, Saskatchewan 2012, 60th Overall, NJD
15 Canada Sissons, ColtonColton Sissons C R 21 2010 North Vancouver, British Columbia 2012, 50th Overall, NSH
3 Canada Stadel, RileyRiley Stadel D L 19 2011 Surrey, British Columbia Eligible 2014
6 Canada Wheaton, MitchellMitchell Wheaton D R 20 2010 Sherwood Park, Alberta 2013, 139th Overall, DET
1 Canada Whistle, JacksonJackson Whistle G L 20 2012 Kelowna, British Columbia Undrafted
5 Canada Yorke, DaltonDalton Yorke D R 19 2013 Maple Ridge, British Columbia Eligible 2014

Team records[edit]

Team records for a single season
Statistic Total Season
Most points 118 2013–14
Most wins 57 2013–14
Most goals for 338 1995–96
Least goals for 156 2006–07
Least goals against 125 2003–04
Most goals against 314 1996–97
Individual player records for a single season[5]
Statistic Player Total Season
Most goals John Varga 60 1993–94
Most assists Allan Egeland 76 1993–94
Most points Allan Egeland 123 1993–94
Most points, rookie Shane McColgan 69 2009–10[citation needed]
Most points, defenceman Burt Henderson 74 1995–96[citation needed]
Best GAA (goalie) Kelly Guard 1.56 2003–04
Goalies = minimum 1500 minutes played


NHL alumni[edit]

Franchise scoring leaders[edit]

These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed WHL regular season.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Brett McLean C 308 166 209 375 1.22
John Varga LW 254 154 179 333 1.31
Jason Deleurme RW 341 141 172 313 .92
Allan Egeland C 213 138 172 310 1.46
Marty Flichel RW 269 101 200 301 1.12
Kiel McLeod C 290 123 138 261 .90
Ryan Wade C/RW 303 124 131 255 .84
Tyler Mosienko C 338 81 151 232 .69
Updated at the completion of the 2007–08 season

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph resigns, takes job in WHL", Idaho Statesman, August 4, 2015. (accessed 4 August 2015)
  2. ^ "Select Your Tickets > Kelowna Rockets". SelectYourTickets.com. Retrieved 2009-11-27. 
  3. ^ a b "WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets set sights on Memorial Cup". WHL. 2009-05-13. Archived from the original on 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  4. ^ WHL Network, Western Hockey League, retrieved 2013-04-05 
  5. ^ Flett, Cory and Watts, Jessie (ed.). 2009–10 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 65. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]